, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 161-171
Date: 27 Jul 2007

Perturbed nuclear receptor signaling by environmental obesogens as emerging factors in the obesity crisis

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Abstract

The modern world is plagued with expanding epidemics of diseases related to metabolic dysfunction. The factors that are driving obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and dyslipidemias (collectively termed metabolic syndrome) are usually ascribed to a mismatch between the body’s homeostatic nutrient requirements and dietary excess, coupled with insufficient exercise. The environmental obesogen hypothesis proposes that exposure to a toxic chemical burden is superimposed on these conditions to initiate or exacerbate the development of obesity and its associated health consequences. Recent studies have proposed a first set of candidate obesogens (diethylstilbestrol, bisphenol A, phthalates and organotins among others) that target nuclear hormone receptor signaling pathways (sex steroid, RXR–PPARγ and GR) with relevance to adipocyte biology and the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD). Perturbed nuclear receptor signaling can alter adipocyte proliferation, differentiation or modulate systemic homeostatic controls, leading to long-term consequences that may be magnified if disruption occurs during sensitive periods during fetal or early childhood development.